(This started as a few sentence Facebook post to go with four photos, but I just kept writing. No editing. Just raw, honest writing...)
Sifting through thousands and thousands of photos. Seeing these definitely stirs up some emotion. They were from when I did the Vancouver marathon in May 2008. I did the race with not one second of training because it simply hurt me too much to run. I didn't see the big deal of running the same(ish) distance from Nelson to Salmo though, after all, it's just running.
Completing the marathon was never an issue or a problem, nor was it ever in question...just a simple matter of one foot in front of the other, and eventually the finish line finds you.
I got a stress fracture in my right foot around KM 18-19, which means I finished the last 23-24 KM on a cracked up foot...on top of no training and all the rest of the crazy pain and stuff in my body. I was a mess, but even still, it was no big deal to me despite all of that.
I remember staggering down the road along one of the waterfront parks in the city, and receiving a standing ovation from a full Sunday morning breakfast patio at some restaurant. (Yes, that tripped me right out!) I didn't care how beat up I looked like to everyone else, I still didn't feel like that was warranted.
(I have been told many times over the years that it isn't right for me to express that because my completing like I do, through the circumstances I do, evokes a real sincere emotion from people, and I am diminishing that whenever I say it is never deserved, nor warranted. It feels like such a complex contrast of perspective and emotion I find myself in amidst all of that between my point of view, and that of others. It just overwhelms me so much past how I really know to handle. It's definitely quite humbling!)
I hopped on the Skytrain and bus back to Biggsy and Deanna's after the race. By the time I got to their place I could barely move my legs. Dave found me out front gigglin' while unable to navigate the short 3 or 4 inch step in some part of their walkway or something like that. Needless to say, he found me stuck on his front path with legs that didn't work. :)
It was a tough drive back to Nelson. Tara and her folks saw me across the street from the El Taco patio the next day, and I will never forget the looks on their faces. Those people have seen me through some shit unlike anyone else, but even still, every so often I find a way to up the ante on that, and this was one of those times. They were horrified...but I just shrugged, laughed, and hobbled away with my slice of pizza from Thor's. (Something they have also become accustomed to. :) )
I went onto crutches right away for a firm set amount of time. I had to scratch some triathlons I had lined up, but I wasn't missing the one in Wasa Lake that was six weeks after the marathon. I was pretty upset about missing the races I did, but I did get a special pedal made for me and my bike refit so I could still ride with my cast on. My pedal was made from a mountain bike pedal, snowboard parts, screws, and skateboard grip tape. I still have it. It's pretty stylin'! Drease and Darryl, at Boomtown Sports in Nelson, took care of me.
I lived in the bush then, so I was crutching up and down the mountain over logs, rocks, and through long brush and all sorts of bush-y life. Of course, I got charged by bears a few times crutching in the bush 'cause I'd still try to sneak up on them to watch those beautiful creatures.
Other than riding with my cast on, and crutching through the bush up and down the mountain, I did everything right. I had broken the same bone in the other foot several years earlier, and was not given good advice, so it never healed fully correctly. This time I just laid around with my foot up, except for those other two things.
Above photos by Phil Best: www.bestphotos.ca/
Because Interior Health is so speedy, it took me 4 weeks to get an appointment for a bone scan. By then my foot had healed to where it didn't show up on the scan. (I stayed on crutches for another week just to be safe.) The doctor happened to be walking by when I was still on the table, so he looked at the results from the radiologist. He came into see me all perplexed. My foot was fine, but then he tried to argue with me that I had a broken rib. I assured him that I didn't have a broken rib. He argued me otherwise.
(Trust me, I did not have a broken rib. I have bruised and cracked ribs, and even pulled muscles between my ribs, and all of them make it really hard to breathe, cough, sneeze, and laugh. This was nothing like that.)
That was the moment I learned the flaws, or more correctly, the loose results of a bone scan. He said what it really does is show "hot spots" that can indicate broken bones, cancer, arthritis, and some other thing that I forget. It was one of the many times I had to go up against a doctor trying to tell me something was wrong with me that was not. (I have dealt with that countless times over the past 26 years.)
Anyhow, much to my physiotherapist's dismay, less than three days off of crutches I raced again in Wasa Lake...just outside of Cranbrook, BC. (Off crutches Thursday afternoon...racing Sunday morning.) I compromised though by doing the swim and the bike (with my fancy pedal) and took myself out of the race at the second transition before the run.
It was the season I bought a trophy and medallions to give to the athlete who transcends adversity to compete in each triathlon I was at. (I competed in 10 over 15 weeks coming off of the crutches.) That turned into a whole other experience that really overwhelmed me as well because of how amazingly it was received. Goodness!
Presenting the Spirit & Determination Award (Named after an award I received at the 2009 Christina Lake, BC Triathlon.)
I never made it to the next season when I had some epic global aspirations because I got beat down by a freakin' goat of all things. It is a crazy story that everyone instinctively laughs at initially, but inevitably end up horrified by the time I get to the end of the story and what it meant to both my body and my life.
I went on to lose about five and a half out of the next six years of my life. It is impossible to describe what happened to my body during all of that, but it was real, real bad...even for my body's already crazy standards for pain. I have not been the same since.
When I happen upon photos and memories like these, they definitely evoke my own sense of emotion...mostly of letdown, failure, and even longing to the missed potential I have always believed that resides inside me.
As time rolls on, and my body gets more and more worn down, it gets harder and harder to draw upon the strength that I don't have to find the fortitude to forge through the obstacles in front of me and the impossible standards I set for myself. Regardless of ever worsening conditions and breaking down inside my body, I still have an unbreakable belief in myself for doing something truly remarkable. I've tried so hard and been knocked down so many times, but I still believe it is there regardless of any failures or stumbles I might have repeatedly face-planted on.
I don't believe in impossible. As so many people know, I don't give a damn what others say about the unaccomplishable things I dream up. I cannot ever compete with anyone, so I am only left to compete with myself, but inside what that notion entails, I just know there is something inside that is longing to be released within me that has never been done before by any human.
Travis Hauck... 3rd overall, 1st in his age group. World Champion!
In the past week, I have had three friends that have left a very indelible impact on my mind and in my heart...
Travis, who, after winning the National Cross-Country Mountain Biking Championships last summer went all in on a year long journey with the goal of competing in the World Championships in Quebec this summer. Unfortunately, he blew a tire about half way through his race, and DNF'd. It was a crushing blow, but he regrouped and overcame his adversity by signing up for a 60km race the following day that was separate from the world's, but at the same site. It was a huge stacked field from around the world, and Travis won his age-group, and took third overall. In the face of that adversity. He carried himself like a champion to refocus, and took down that race, and as far as I am concerned, became a 60km cross-country world champion himself. (Although he firmly disputes this with me, and I completely disregard the technicalities in the face of the matter. :) )
Sarah, who, also overcoming adversity through injury, just qualified for the Ironman 70.3 Triathlon World Championships next weekend in Nice, France (Bib #1378);)
Sarah and her husband, Rob, after finishing Ironman Arizona at the end of 2018
...and then Leo who needs to hit top 30 in the world rankings over the long qualifying process to get to the World Cross-Fit Games. In his words...
"No the qualifier to get into those competitions is right now. They release workouts every Wednesday and you have until Monday to do them, video them and submit them... ...top 30 get the nod. I’m currently 10th in one and 5th in another."
He has to keep that consistency up until sometime in the spring. I asked Leo for the link to his youtube channel so I could watch them. All I had to do was watch the first one to get stunned into disbelief! You hear around town how much of a beast this guy is, but when you actually see it, it's a whole other thing! I'll let you make your own mind up about that.
Old photo I scooped from Leo's Facebook page.
All three of these incredible people are stratosphere's beyond anything I could ever chase down, but even still, all there have found glimmers of inspired-ness from the way I have thrown myself into the athletic meat grinder of my own making. I am so humbled by them, I could never put it into words. They are three legit, world level bad-asses...and then there is my doofus self!
I am so inspired by Travis, Sarah, and Leo, but I also feel like I have been living a lie within myself when I see what they are all bringing to a fruition of reality, when all I do is have stumbles. I don't give a shit about all my body issues, they are irrelevant towards my standards for myself; but I somehow find myself living in the ever widening gap between a constantly breaking down worn out pain-filled body, and aspirational standards that surpass my imagination.
The biggest fear I have is seeing that gap widen more and more as my body slips further and further away, dying before I really tap into the potential I know I have. I am well aware of the scope of the unfair pressure I put on myself because of it, but I don't care, because it is never gonna change. It shreds my mind to pieces every day, but is also the very reason why photos and stories like that Vancouver marathon exist. I know I have pulled myself through shit that only the very, very rare few do, but for me, it is still not good enough...my aspirations that I refuse to let go of are just too big.
These three people have given me something to really think about. Stumbling onto these photos cemented it. I know my body keeps trying to get in my way, but my mind is thinking up some new shit...especially after messaging with Leo a couple days ago.
Tomorrow is gonna spark the beginning of some kinda something that I have ideas of right now. Tonight I will sift through it and share what that entails with the three of them. The only thing I really know is that it is gonna be hard for me, hard on me, will hurt me, will inevitably injure me, and test every bit of mental and emotional fortitude I have inside of me.
(I began something like this in the spring when I got cleared from surgery by my doctor, but a massive life change turned my world upside down this summer, so I was forced into some adjustments...and also took the first real vacation I have had in 13 years.)
Time to focus the intensity again to drive myself insane going after the dreams that lie beyond my imagination. Hopefully the next two years are the most intense, painfully exhausting, yet undeniably rewarding years I have had. Only time will tell how that all plays out, but the only way to find out the truth of it all is to dig in and go after it...
Coming into the finish of the final stage of the 2019 Trans Rockies Classic
At some point earlier this summer, I asked how Travis' legs were doing, and where he was at with everything leading up to the world's. He said he wasn't where he wanted to be.
(Trav works hard, and he is an amazingly committed family man. As intense as he trains, he doesn't let that come in the way of his priorities...the life of his family!)
While I was on my summer wanderings with my doggie, I would think about him, and his preparation towards August...especially with those thoughts in my head of him not being where he wanted to be. Charging the world championships is a huge thing, and I wanted for him to be able to go there as prepared as possible, peaking at the right time, to lay smackdown on everyone else.
I do realize it is weird saying what I want, but the truth of the matter is that I want him to win, and in order to do that, he's gotta have everything aligned perfectly. In that respect, yes, I do want him to be as prepared as possible.
At the end of July, Travis popped up on the radar again right before the first stage of the Trans Rockies Classic. I was around home a bit then, but coming and going all over the place still, so I wasn't overly accessible.
It wasn't the first pre-race post he put up that got me, it was seeing his day one results that triggered something in me. I was elated for him, but that feeling of shittiness from missing out had punched me right in the gut.
That was that, I couldn't take it anymore. I was to the point where, how can I even call him a friend if I don't get out there and go see him at some point during those six remaining stages. Immediately after seeing his post, I started looking into it all. I sunk right into the Trans Rockies website: www.transrockiesclassic.com/
Quite quickly, I took a screenshot of his results from Day 1, and posted it on his page.
After I did that, I looked at the course. Before I saw the dates for each stage, I messaged Travis to ask him if there was a rest day in the middle. There wasn't
When I was looking into it deeper, I was kinda getting a little deflated with each stage's start/finish locations because I had some casual commitments that wouldn't let me get to any of those places. Everything turned around when I got to the last final stage though! It started in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, and finished in Fernie, BC on the Sunday. (July 28th)
"That's the one!"
Image from the Trans Rockies Classic website.
Even though I couldn't fully commit until I figured a couple things out, I instinctively knew I was going. I couldn't miss it. I'd be so upset with myself if I did, and it would eat at me. (I can be my own worst nightmare.) I messaged Travis that I was hoping to go, and in part, I wish I hadn't as I would rather have just shown up.
(I had just done that to my friend from Whistler when she was playing in a charity hockey tournament in Kelowna the previous weekend. Debbie was on the ice when she saw me, and her legit, double-take reaction of shock was worth the overnight drive!)
Yaaaay for Debbie!
I couldn't escape the thoughts of my brief 12 year history with Travis. I mean, somehow in all of that, I was standing next to him in the hospital room when Tobi was being passed Caden from their nurse shortly after he was born. (That is a hilarious story from my point-of-view that I will tell another time; but I will say that I have never felt more out of place in all my life.) I just love those guys so much, and I couldn't miss him racing this time. I felt like I'd be letting him down, even though, in his nicest guy ever language, Trav would tell me to go fuck myself for even entertaining such a notion.
So, it was settled, I knew that whatever I had to figure out would somehow work, and I'd be on my way to Crowsnest Pass for the start of the final stage...and then drive into Fernie for the finish.
I left at somewhere around 1:00AM to drive through the night. I gave myself enough time to poke along and take a break or two if I needed it.
Crowsnest Pass is right in the Rocky Mountains, hence the name of place, and is just over an hour east of Fernie. I was really tired, and my butt was super sore, so I pulled over about 30 minutes west of Fernie to take a little break. That would give me a smooth final little 90 minute coast into the small town.
I timed it so I would arrive at about 7:15AM so I could park my van, let my doggie out, and then find my way to the race area with some time before the 8:00AM start. I woke up from my little siesta with the perfect amount of time to get there, so I looked at my dog, and said,
"Sweet! We totally nailed it, Fennario!"
About ten seconds later I got reminded once again of how big of an idiot I am, and realized I forgot about the time change. It was an hour later than I thought! Our perfect arrival time of 7:15AM was actually 8:15AM...fifteen minutes after the race start, which would be perfectly the worst time to show up!
I turned back to Fennario to say,
"Well, I fucked up again! Daaaaamn! When'r you ever gonna straighten me out?!"
In a way, I wasn't totally surprised that I messed that up, and I'm betting that if you asked Travis, he'd likely concur with that notion, "Yup...big surprise there!" I was pissed off though...like, really, really mad at myself...so upset! There I was, just letting down my friend again.
Since there was nothing I could do about it, I just crawled back into the bed in my van and went to sleep again. I was too mad to be awake anyway.
Immediately upon opening my eyes, I cursed myself out several times. Apparently that seemed to be the theme of the morning.
I took my time driving the last 30 minutes into town...stopping along the way to take some photos.
When I got into town, I started looking for my friend's school bus craft shop she has parked downtown that's called, Ace Ferguson. That bit of meandering led me to the skate park. I had to get out there to poke around and take some photos.
Inevitably, I was thrust into reliving some nostalgia from when I was a little kid in the 80's charging on my skateboard. (If I wasn't all crippled like I am, I'd still have one to play on.)
I noticed there was a lotta commotion at the bike shop right across the train tracks beside the park. There were all these little kids with their bikes, and their parents signing them up for some kind of race. I had to go check that out.
Being in the parking lot of GearHub Sports was fantastic. It reminded me of the Kids of Steel events at triathlons I have done. You see all these little kids with streamers on their bikes, some dressed as super heroes, and all that fun stuff. It's so great to see. I have always loved that.
Kids Rally Registration at GearHub Sports: www.gearhub.ca/
I asked what the event was, and where it was located. They told me it was a kids rally. The Kid's Bike Rally was in its 13th year. The registration was at GearHub, but then there was a bike decoration station at the Fernie Bike Park that was right across the street from the skate park. The rest took place by the rec centre and finishing area of the Trans Rockies race.
I love that stuff so much. Seeing the young kids out to give 'er is so amazing. I'll never not love that.
One thing I realized there was that no matter what the kids event I might see, or stumble into, I always get reminded of this one little girl in the Kids of Steel triathlon in Summerland, BC years ago in 2007. (About 5 days before I met Travis and Mike) She was having trouble getting into the water for the swim. She wanted to so bad, and kept motioning herself into the water, but couldn't bring herself to do it. She was turning around in half of a panic, pleading with her parents, and crying. Even still, she wanted to do it, and we all knew it. She just needed to find that millimetre of a push within herself, and she'd be fine. Everybody on the beach got behind her. The volunteers in the water were incredible. We were all going nuts cheering for her. She finally found the strength to get in and do the little swim course. The applause that we generated for her was really something else. When she stood up at the end of her swim, she had the biggest smile on her face, and the whole place just erupted! It was awesome. I felt so fortunate to be a part of it, and I have never forgotten her. Being in the parking lot, watching all the kids registering for the bike rally, brought all of that back again.
Gotta love kids who charge!
My little bad-ass hero in the stripes!
Being at the kids registration area definitely wiped clean all the frustration I had within myself for screwing up the time change and missing Travis' start at Crowsnest Pass. (It's nice to feel not pissed off. Haha.)
I went back to get in my van to drive over to the finishing area and check it out. After being such a dipshit in the early morning, I had to make sure I had everything all set for when Trav would be coming down the finishing chute. I wasn't missing that for anything!
I scoped it out, but had lots of time before his estimated finishing time, so I found an excellent shaded area to park. Fennario and I then walked the few blocks away to Ace Ferguson to see Kate and her kick-ass bus!
We hung out with her for quite awhile, but then with about 30 minutes left til race finishing time, we strolled back to the park area. I put Fennario in the van, rolled the windows down, and put out her water for her. With my doggie all styled out, I walked over to the finishing area.
I walked around wondering where the ideal place to see the end of the race would be. The finish line was in an outdoor hockey rink. I decided that the best place to be was right where the dirt met the opening to the boards of the rink. That way I could see him pop outta the bush and he would ride right past me, only a couple feet away, and unobstructed. Perfect!
I asked one of the race officials about the estimated time that they would be arriving. I told him that Travis said it would be around (whatever time he told me), and he confirmed that. The official then said that Travis had been on fire!
I told him I had driven from Nelson just to see Travis, and also told him of my time change screw up. I welcomed him into making fun of my stupidity with me, and he happily obliged. We had fun making fun of me for a couple moments. (I earned it...might as well embrace it!)
From that moment on, I planted myself right where I was, and was not moving for anything. Not a damned chance!
I was around 20-25 minutes early, so I had some reflective time on whatever my brain wanted to wander through. I looked a bit at the summer I had been having, but really I was just thinkin' about Travis, and the bigger picture of this Trans Rockies race he was leading.
I know how hard he works for all of this, and what it really means to him. Seeing his positioning at the top of the leaders board for this grueling race made me happy, but not necessiarily for the Trans Rockies itself. I was looking at what it was all saying about his overall conditioning for the World Championships later in August.
He was never far from my mind during all my summer journeys, and until this race, the only information I had was him saying he wasn't where he wanted to be with his training earlier in the season. Leading this insane 7 Stage race that averaged 79km in distance and over 6000 feet in elevation gain each stage told all the story one needed to know about his conditioning...
I got really, really happy for him. Super, super psyched!
I looked back to that wintery dinner of us sitting at his kitchen table, when he looked me right in the eyes and said with such conviction that he wasn't going to the worlds just to compete, that he was going there to win. I stayed with that image in my mind for a bit.
I know how much he has put into it all. That idea reaches further than all the long hours he puts out on his bikes. Before I had come over for that dinner in the winter, Travis had sent me the sponsorship/media packet he put together. (He emailed it in a pdf.)
Travis has always commented on my writing, and knows I have a done a bunch of sponsorship/media for myself, and have helped other people with that if I'm ever asked as well. He'll send me stuff like that because he knows I love it, but he also asks me what I think about it. (Quite flattering!)
The kit he put together was amazing! When I saw him next, he put the hard copy in my hands, and we got into it. He worked hard on it, and you could tell. It was so well done.
From my own experience, I know first hand how much goes into putting those sponsorship/media kits together, whether that being the time, or the mental and emotional energy. They don't just happen on their own, and you cannot just whip them off. I loved seeing it. I loved that he sent it to me, and then put it directly in my hands when I saw him shortly later.
It's more than the obvious that speaks to me about Travis, it's the fine unseen details of his passionate, and fierce commitment towards what he is doing. It is infectious!
Make no mistake about it, going to the world's is a big deal to him...past the obvious to what so many others might see!
That's the stuff I was staring into when I was standing there waiting for him to come down the finishing chute. It's also why I was so pissed off at myself for missing the start of that final stage. I know how much it means to him, I know how much he has put into it, and he's someone I give a shit about; so I just found myself swimming in thoughts of happiness for him because of the way he laid it down for the Trans Rockies. Trav completely annhialated any of those apprehensions he might have had quietly swirling when he told me earlier in the summer that his training, and body, was not where he wanted to be.
I understand that kind of mental toll in this respect. I can't speak for him obviously, but I know all about the far depths of the spirit one gets submerged into when pushing into the ultimate extreme. The things one's mind can do when treading within that realm can be absolutely brutal, so I can only imagine where Trav's mind was at fighting through everything when his body wasn't where he wanted it to be after the countless hours he poured into it all.
Of course, I could be 100% wrong!
I almost felt a sense of elation when I was standing there waiting for him. Despite the 7 days of hard pounding on his exhausted body, it had to be some sort of big release to crush down the Trans Rockies the way he did! Good bye apprehensions, hello world championships!
If I'm being completely honest, I gotta say, I was getting a bit emotional. I was glad that I came to see my friend finish this epic race that was the big springboard testing ground towards the world's. (That is a fabricated thought within my mind, he has never implied such a thing to me.) Outside of being able to go to Quebec itself, if there was one race to come out to see him finish, it was this one.
There was a little comedy yet to come...
An elderly couple walked up and stood beside me. We started talking right away. They were super sweet. The lady was firing off all the questions. She asked me if I was from Fernie. I told them that I had driven overnight from west of Nelson to see my friend Travis finish the final stage. I then had to explain the deal with it being the final stage, and what that meant. They were pretty blown away by the scope of the race, and also were pretty psyched that I would drive that far just to see my friend wizz past us for all of 15 seconds.
The comedy played out when they both asked where the racers came out from to the finish area. I pointed down to the brush with the cone markers along the ground. She then asked if they would know where they were going. I told her that I have done a bunch of these kinds of races, and that I have never looked at a map, and never had a problem as courses are always marked. I then said, "These guys race all over the place, they know what they're doing!"
The couple were diggin' it, and stayed hangin' out til the boys came charging through. Well, seems she was right, because when the boys popped outta the bush, all three of them went the wrong way...they took a right instead of going straight.
All three of us started laughing. She totally called it! I turned to her and said, "Well, you totally nailed that one, huh?!"
It was most excellent!
Back on track to bring it home!
The three of them got quickly back on course and blew past us into the finishing chute in the hockey rink. Trav was out front, and in his words, "I couldn't resist," pulled a huge wheelie on his bike into the finish line.
It was great!
Once he was finished, he had to give interviews for their media and such. He had cameras right in his face. I loved watching it. Lil' bad-ass!
I walked to a different spot on the outside of the rink to take some photos while he was doing all of that. When I saw it winding down, I went back to where I originally was by the entrance that they biked into as it was also the way they came out. That's when I got to see him and talk to him finally.
For some reason, I was kinda at a loss for words. I wasn't even sure of the last time I saw him, and even considering everything, I still didn't have much to say. I remember thinking about the way I get whenever I have finished triathlons, and I think I let that get in the way of any conversation with Trav.
My races are a spectacle for exact opposite reasons of Travis, but I get swarmed by people at the finish line. It totally overwhelms me, and really I just wanna unwind, chill out, and much to my friend, Shelby's, dismay, eat ice cream. Talking to people is the last thing on my mind. End even when I see close friends at races, I don't have too much to say to them either. I know for sure, that got in the way of any kind of proper conversing with him on my end. I was also aware of the grind he put himself through, so figured he might be a tad bit tired.
We small talked for a bit, but made plans for me to come over for dinner before he left for the world's in Quebec. With that, I took off straight for the ice cream stand...The Happy Cow!
I talked to that lady for a bit. She was selling these amazing home made ice cream sandwiches. The ice cream was bookended by two fatty, fresh baked cookies. Daaaamn, they were good.
I saw Travis walking by somewhere when I had just gotten mine, so I yelled over to him to see if he wanted one.
(Also, much to the dismay of Shelby. In a small, little way, I kinda offered it to Trav in total defiance of Shelby... The story behind this is that Shelby is a naturopathic doctor, and really close friend I have known for over 30 years. She doesn't have a damned thing against ice cream, but said it is the last thing your body wants/needs after doing something like a triathlon, or in Travis' case, a grinding mountain bike race. Well, stick it to the man...haha, Shelby!)
Travis was all over the offer, so I grabbed a second one to give to him. We indulged together. I got some guy to take a photo of us cheers-ing our sandwiches, but for who knows what reason, he didn't know how to push a simple button on a camera to take a photo, and screwed it up. I was bummed when I discovered that at home.
We talked for a minute or two more while shoving ice cream in our faces, and with that, I was on my way.
Before we parted ways, without him knowing, I took a photo of his shoes, and his skinny little calves. I always love looking at his legs because they're so gawd damned savage! Whenever you see photos of him on the podium, he's always the tiniest guy up there.
I come from the triathlon world, and even though it is extreme endurance, I am used to tree trunk legs, so I have always found it most excellent looking at Travis' little legs. Those lil' fuckers are like unassuming assassins! Don't mess with them 'cause they will whup your ass all up over the place!
Even though I messed up getting to see Travis off at the start of the stage, I was really happy about having been there. I never saw the whole getting emotional part coming, but I embraced it because I love the guy and was just so psyched for him.
I let Fennario help me with the last of my ice cream when I got back to my van. Then we walked back over to say good bye to Kate before we left town.
A few last post race photos!
Keep chargin' Trav! I was glad to see you race for 15 seconds!
I must begin with the 2019 Trans Rockies Classic, and bounce around from there...
I had been intermittently following Travis' race during the last week of July. He was competing in the Trans Rockies Classic. It is a pretty gnarly mountain bike race in the Canadian Rockies. Consisting of seven stages over seven days through the rugged mountains with crazy elevation gains and descents, it's not for the faint of heart!
Being into triathlon the way I used to be, it was always inevitable my world would collide with Travis. For the first several years of my racing, I knew who he was, but that was about it. It wasn't until I was flying to Ontario to do a duathlon in my hometown of Wasaga Beach in September, 2007 that I really met him though.
Out on course along the beach.
Coming down the finishing chute and talking to a reporter after the race...
As per usual, I was the last one through the gate at our airport, and they gave me a tongue-lashing for it. (Nothing has changed...that happened when I went to Chicago this past June.) I was told I was lucky to get my bike on the plane because there was less than usual luggage that day, otherwise I'd be screwed.
I went into the waiting area, and sat down pretty much right beside Travis. He was flying to Las Vegas with Mike Seniuk for some kinda conference-y something.
I barely had my ass on the seat before Travis was lookin' at me with a huge fat grin, and saying something about my bike in the box, at which point we fell into conversation about racing.
At our layover in Calgary, the three of us had lunch, and carried on like we'd already known each other for quite some time. (Mike's cousin, Jackie, had been a really good friend of mine for years at that point, so we were instantly comfortable with each other.)
That was all it took! Just like that, Travis and I were instant great friends.
So, fast forward to this summer, 12 years later...
I had still yet to see Travis race in all that time. Yes, there is the thought that he mostly races far away, but even though I would consciously think about it, that was still never a good enough excuse for me to miss out on his bad-ass-ery!
In a kind of overreacting way, I had a mini little meltdown, and sorta snapped at myself for only being reduced to seeing his photos with written race updates and conclusions over the years. If I am being truthful, I actually started feeling like a pretty shitty friend for never having seen him race, especially considering how supportive he has been of me in all my triathlon endeavors for so many years. There are two instances that I take note of the most...
-The first was when he got sponsored to do the La Ruta race in Costa Rica in October, 2011. It was a crazy, crazy 4 day stage race. (Like the mini Tour de France of mountain biking.) While he was down charging that course, I was in Portland, Oregon for a half marathon, and then going to try for some sponsorship at the Adidas North American HQ. We were both messaging each other in total support...taking away from what each of us was doing to cheer on the other. (By the way...he grabbed the leader's jersey, and podium'd overall.)
-The second time that stands out was in late summer/early fall of 2015 when I did 31 triathlons under pretty grueling conditions. (All told, I bailed hard once, battled severe hypothermia in our freezing lake with no wetsuit for the back half, had many injuries, and then got hit by a car on my second last day.) On my final day, Travis came out with Caden (his two year old son) to watch me during my last swim. He was yelling at me out in the water from the park. If that wasn't enough, they got in his truck to follow me on my bike course...honking his horn and yelling and screaming out his window.
You see, Travis is the most solid of guys! I've even put it into writing before that, "it's almost sickening how good of a guy he is...just be at least a bit of a prick to give the rest of us a chance." (Haha...Something like that.)
As far as the triathlon meat grinder I have repeatedly thrown myself into, and all the crazy stuff I think up within that world, regardless if I am successful or not, Travis has always been 1000% supportive of me...quite actively and verbally. In a way, it kind of trips me out when he says what he has about me because he is a legit bad-ass.
Me, glued together with wraps and tape before the 2007 Nelson Triathlon.
Photo by Phil Best: www.bestphotos.ca/
Travis is definitely a local legend around here, and the racing circuit he charges on. It would be quite a fitting nickname if one were to call him, "Mr. Podium!"
He charges insane races year after year, and after all of them, you see podium photos and stories pop up on his Facebook account. Then there is me, "Mr. Last Place, Nowhere Near the Leaders Guy," who Travis supports without restraint. (I mean, I'm not just last place, I'm last as fuck!) The two of us have always seemed to have a circular connection of mutual inspiration. We have both been quite vocal about it, to each other, and outward to the world.
Personally, I have never felt like I have earned, nor deserved that for myself, but with him, it is beyond undeniable how incredible he is. Plainly stated,
"Travis is a mountain shredding mutherfucker!"
I hang off the stuff he does. I love talking to him about all the different facets of what high level racing entails. (There's more to it than one would think.)
Truthfully, I feel very humbled in his presence, and all this stuff never leaves me when I'm in thought about him.
(He inevitably floats through my mind when I am out charging through unbearable pain, and those thoughts actually give me strength to transcend anything a course, or my broken body might throw at me.)
There's sooo many great things about the guy, but no matter what, I'm always dialed into Trav's racing life. Even if we are talking about things completely irrelevant to that, it is still automatic as something lingering on my mind! I'm never unaware of the levity of being around Mr. Podium!
(I don't own rights to any of these photos, so if you see this and one is yours, shoot me a message so I can happily give you credit.)
I'm not too sure when I started realizing this, (It has been for awhile now.), but every time I see more of his racing stories, photos, and results online, or talking with him about them in person, I've started to increasingly feel kind of shitty that he is always out to support me, but I had never been out to see him goin' for it. (Except when he would pass by my last-place-ass on the bike portion of the old Nelson triathlon many years ago.)
I haven't liked that feeling, and it has eaten at me somewhat. I've always kept that to myself, but it is there, and it is real that I have started feeling kinda shitty around him because of it.
(I can only imagine him reading this right now. Haha...suck on it Trav! Your impact is real!)
I had been on my own adventures all over the place this summer, so I had not seen him in quite awhile. Since he won the National Championships last summer, and was committed to going to the World's this summer, I had never lost sight of his journey. There's no way I could. He was always close to my thoughts!
I was at Travis and Tobi's place for dinner sometime either side of the Christmas holidays. He and I got carried away talking about the world's. When we were deep into that conversation, with the most conviction I have ever heard him speak, Travis leaned forward to look me right in the eye, and told me that he isn't going there to just race, he is going there to win.
"I WANT TO WIN!"
A total a freakin' bad-ass! What more can you really say?!
Stuff Writin' About Kinda Guy
I am a simple guy who likes to dream of the impossible and go after it. I have found fun in writing about my journey as well as other things that inspire me too.